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Hog Killing Tradition in Caroline County on Eastern Shore of Maryland
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

Women’s Work: Memories of an Old-Time Hog Killing in Federalsburg, Md.

Ellenor Merriken was still brand new to Federalsburg, Md. when her husband's mother (aka "Grandma") called and told her to come on over and pitch in--it was hog-killing time. That longstanding Christmastime tradition on the Delmarva Peninsula worked something like an Amish barn-raising--neighbors would gather to pitch in and help while also enjoying a day of fellowship. This was new to Ellenor. She had found…
Circus Tent Entrance FEATURED PHOTO
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CIRCUS ACTS: Strange and Ridiculous Happenings Under the Big Top!

The traveling circus was a staple of small-town life on the Delmarva Peninsula in the early 1900s. Here are three stories that show just how strange things could get with those shows and their performers. Circus Act #1! The brawl in Seaford, Del., 1908 (with flying snakes!) You’ve seen old Westerns, right? The ones with scenes where two guys start fighting in a tavern and…
Typical Chicken Farm 1940s FEATURED PHOTO from Poultry Industry History
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You’ve Heard of Bootleggers? How about Meatleggers? There Were Lots of Them on Delmarva in the 1940s

What you see up top here is an ordinary Delmarva chicken farm in the early 1940s. But that decade was anything but ordinary for the poultry industry: Think black marketeering, bushel baskets of cash hidden in attics, and military roadblocks set up on DuPont Highway. These were World War II years. Among the array of complex logistics in that conflict was the task of feeding…
CharactersWay Back Machine

From Frankford to the Front Lines and Back: World War II Hero Ernest Marvel

NOTE: This is a special guest post. Lucas Pineda Walls is my 13-year-old great nephew. In getting to know him I learned about his great interest in World War II—almost obsessive, actually. I asked him if he would be interested in telling the story of one of our Delmarva veterans from that greatest generation. This is a lightly edited version of the story that he…
Mirror of the Almighty Tangier Island Camp Meeting Featured Image
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

Way Back Machine: ‘A Mirror of the Almighty’ on Tangier Island, 1828

The modern-day tourism trade on Smith and Tangier islands dates to the 1960s, when tour boats first started shuttling curious daytrippers out into the middle of the bay. But visitors have actually been flocking to these islands for centuries. In 1821, one observer reported seeing more than 400 boats anchored around Tangier. He estimated the crowd attending that year’s Methodist camp meeting at more than…
Robert Banks Featured Photo 2
CharactersWay Back Machine

A Korean War Hero from Cambridge and the Price of our Freedoms: The Story of Robert Banks

Imagine a young soldier stationed halfway around the world. He's been through hell on the battlefield and landed in a prison camp where food comes in starvation rations, infectious diseases run rampant, and winter nights descend in a bone-chilling freeze deeper than anything he's ever known. His comrades in arms are dropping like flies, their bodies tossed unceremoniously into ditches. One thing keeps this young…
Almost a State of Delmarva Featured Image
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WAY BACK MACHINE: The Almost State of Delmarva, 1830s

In 1833, the Eastern Shore came within a whisker of becoming part of Delaware. One vote! That's all that prevented the union. No one called our peninsula "Delmarva" back in 1833. But lots of people recognized it as a well-defined place unto itself, thanks to a mix of geography and deep-seated cultural affinities. Lots of folks also thought it was kinda strange, how history had…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

This Rug Tells a Bedtime Story: When Pittsville Was “the Strawberry Capital of the World”

"The Strawberry Capital of the World:" That's the title of the artwork above by a famous "rug hooker," Mary Sheppard Burton. The setting is our own Pittsville, Md., one of the towns just off of Route 50 between Salisbury and Ocean City. (The artwork is below here as well, in a bigger size at the end of the story.) Burton was born in Salisbury in…
Strange & WondrousWay Back Machine

The Futuro House Aims for the Stratosphere

This is a free excerpt from my book, You Wouldn't Believe! 44 Strange and Wondrous Delmarva Tales. More info about that and my other books exploring the history, travel, and culture on the Eastern Shore and in Delaware here. Unless you’re a pilot taking off from the tiny Eagle Crest Airport or a worshipper bound for Burton Chapel AME Church, there’s no reason to take a westbound…
April 22, 2023